YAKIMA, Wash – The Yakima Valley Pippins had started off slow in their first four games of the West Coast League season. Much to the dismay of the Bellingham Bells, the Pippins decided to flip the script on Tuesday night, as they used a four run first inning to jump out in front and never looked back en route to cruising to a 9-5 win over the Bells to take the first two games of the series and move over .500 for the first time this season.
Facing Bellingham starter, Rogelio Reyes (California), the Pippins (3-2) got the offense going immediately, as after Conner McNally (Utah) was hit by a pitch, Michael Wyatt (Columbia Basin) singled and then Gabe Taylor (Dixie State) reached on an error to score McNally for the game’s first run. Chris Dalto (Central Washington) followed suit by lacing a double down the left field line to clear the bases and give the Pippins a 3-0 edge. Mitch Ellis (Western Illinois) later grounded out to score Dalto and give the Pippins a 4-0 lead after one inning.
In the 3rd, the Pippins were at it again offensively, as after Michael Wyatt doubled to begin the frame, Gabe Taylor singled and Chris Dalto walked to load the bases for Ellis. A wild pitch soon scored Wyatt, and Taylor came home after on another Ellis RBI out, this time a sacrifice fly. After Nick Plaia (Cal Baptist) singled in Dalto, the Pippins had a 7-0 lead after three innings.
The Bells (2-3) answered with a pair of runs in the top of the 4th inning to get on the board, but the Pippins stormed right back in the bottom of the frame with two runs of their own, as after Wyatt single and Taylor walked, Ellis delivered again with a two-run single to push the Pippins lead back to seven runs at 9-2.
Bellingham plated a run in each of the 6th, 7th and 8th innings, but ultimately, could not dig out of the deficit, as the Pippins closed things out for a 9-5 victory to pick up their second consecutive win and move over .500 for the first time this season.
The Hitting: Wyatt became the third Pippins batter to record a three hit outing as he went 3-4, joining Plew and Plaia, whom each had one such game in the Victoria series. Wyatt now has eight hits to begin the season, which was tied for the West Coast League lead as of Tuesday night. Wyatt and Ellis are the only Pippins to have hit safely in each of the first five games of the season. After getting his first hit of the season last night via an RBI double in the 4th inning, Dalto had two more hits tonight to record his first multi-hit game of 2017. Ellis’ four RBI tonight are the most by a Pippins player this season. He now has seven RBI to lead Yakima Valley.
The Pitching: Tedeschi gave the Pippins their fourth consecutive quality start, going six innings while allowing five hits and three earned runs to pick up the win. He struck out six batters and walked just two while inducing ten ground ball outs, many of which were from weak contact. Cullen Kafka (Oregon) made his Pippins debut allowing a run in the 7th inning and Matt Driver (Yakima Valley) made his third appearance out of the bullpen and pitched the 8th and 9th innings, allowing one run to go with a strikeout. Tedeschi’s six strikeouts were the most by a Pippins pitcher this season. The Pippins hit three Bellingham batters, tying a season high when they hit three Victoria batters in their game on Sunday.
Game Notes: With the victory, the Pippins have now won back-to-back games for the first time this season and move over .500 for the first time as well. The Pippins scored four runs in the 1st inning for the 8th time in franchise history, tying their record. They most recently did it on July 6, 2016 against the Kitsap BlueJackets, a WCL member at the time. The four 1st inning runs are the earliest the Pippins have scored in a single game this season. They had previously not scored until at least the 4th inning, and also did not score the first run in a single game of the entire Victoria series. After leaving 13 runners on in their series opening defeat on Monday night, Bellingham stranded another ten tonight, totaling 23 for the series.
1 More to 100 Wins: The Pippins have now totaled 99 wins against 68 defeats in their four year West Coast League history meaning that they will reach the 100 win milestone with their next victory. The Pippins beat the Wenatchee AppleSox in their inaugural game on June 6, 2014, and won a WCL expansion team record 35 games in their first season, amassing 96 wins through the first three years of the franchise.
What’s Next: The Pippins will go for the series sweep and franchise win number 100 with A.J. Landis (Colorado Mesa) getting the start against the Bells’ Chad Gideon (Pacific Lutheran). First pitch is set for 7:05 p.m. from Yakima County Stadium.
ABOUT THE PIPPINS: The Yakima Valley Pippins compete in the West Coast League, one of the nation’s premier summer collegiate wood bat leagues. The Pippins play their home games at Yakima County Stadium (“The Orchard”) in Yakima, Washington. After winning 96 games during their first three seasons in the WCL, the Pippins set the mark as the winningest WCL expansion team after three years. Yakima County Stadium will play host to the 2017 West Coast League All-Star Game, along with an extensive 31-game home season for Year No. 4 of Pippins' Baseball in 2017. Read more online at PippinsBaseball.com, and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube with #ThatWasAwesome.